Simply Balisha

Simply Balisha

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

No Name....No Picture.... Chicken Recipe & Kale

A Chicken recipe:

I want to keep this recipe I know how to fix it I had no recipe to start out with. Maybe some of you have fixed chicken this way, but I hadn't.

I took 5 chicken drumsticks and browned them and placed them in the slow cooker. I had sprayed the cooker with olive oil spray before hand. Then I put a cup of water with a half stick of butter in a saucepan along with a box of Stovetop stuffing. Heat it through and let it sit for a few minutes. Then put it on top of the chicken drums. Spread it out. Then take a can of cream of chicken soup and mix with 1/2 can of water. I added a tsp. of chicken seasoning. Make sure you season as you go. I seasoned the legs with seasoned salt and pepper before frying. Pour the soup mixture over all. Cook on low for 6 hours.
Our house smelled like Heaven while it was cooking.This was delicious and a very reasonable meal for the two of us...with leftovers for one. We would ordinarily eat more chicken, but fixed this way...we were satisfied with less.  Food is increasing in price and there are ways that we can save at the grocery store. So for the price of 5 drumsticks and a box of stuffing...we had a meal and a
I finally fixed kale so that I would like it. Joe stuck to his spinach...didn't want to try the kale. I bought kale in a lg. plastic container in the produce section. After I washed it, I placed it in the fry pan with olive oil. Fried it for a few minutes and added a cup of chicken stock. Covered it and let it cook for about 10 min.I seasoned it and used lots of pepper. Put a pat of butter in and a splash of red wine vinegar on it. It tasted a lot like spinach, but it's a little chewier that spinach. I can't believe I ate the whole thing!

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Jumble of Things for Monday

Here's my little garden by the drive. It's getting a late start. Do you like the foliage of Grape Hyacinth? It always looks so messy to me, especially this year, when it sits there all alone. I guess it needs some companion planting to take attention away from the foliage.I had a couple of gift for Menard's and one for Rock Valley Nursery that were burning a hole in my pocket. When we went out for dinner yesterday, we stopped at both. I needed some things from Menard's for my next project. They had pretty much what I wanted, so that along with birdseed took care of my card there. It was a chilly, windy day and not a good time for shopping at the nursery. Everything was blowing around and I decided to go inside and look around. I bought a Hens and Chicks plant, a Red Sedum, two Rosemary plants, and a few annuals for my project. I need lots of plants that will spill over the edge. It was a bit too early to buy many that took care of the other card. Plants have really increased in price. One Hen and Chick cost $5.19. It's a big one and one that I haven't seen before. When we got home I changed my clothes and went out in the wind to get these things planted. My cement planter, made by my neighbor Betty, needed some refurbishing. It's filled with succulents and needed some new soil. I loosened it up a bit and took out the dried plants, rearranged the remaining ones and added the two that I bought. It looks good now. I had it sitting on the purple chair, so I took it off and put it on the ground during the wind. I thought maybe the plants would blow away. I planted the Rosemary in two pots and watered things in a bit. After looking around the house perimeter, I notice a little cluster of Snowdrops. Isn't it lovely to find a little surprise that you forgot you planted?  Made me happy. I really wanted to do more, but I was cold and thought I'd do it another day.

Today is chilly and rainy. Joe had an appointment in Barrington, so I was on my own for most of the day. Do you know what I did? I finished my clothes...trying on T shirts and capris to see what was worn out and what still fit. When will I stop looking at clothing I wonder? My mother loved clothes until the day she died. She and Dad would go to the mall just about everyday.They could walk and get their exercise. They'd go out for lunch and then Dad would sit and people watch, while Mom shopped. She kept her eye on things. She knew exactly when something she wanted was the right price and then she snatched it up. I was always on the other end of the phone, when she would call, to tell me her latest deal. I'm not like that at all. I can count on one hand, the number of times I've been to the mall since I have lived here...almost 11 yrs. Online shopping and the Ogle County Hospice thrift store are my way of shopping. Last year I decided to toss about 1/2 of my clothes. I donated them and sent them to the thrift shop. My closet looks pretty bare and I want to keep it that way.I have two wardrobes downstairs and I could get by with one. I emptied all the bins, so clothes are easier to bring up the stairs. This year I accomplished the switchover in about an hour and a half. This morning I was washing a few things and putting some in the dryer to fluff them. My everyday gardening clothes are pretty much the same as other years. This year, I have some bright new bandannas to I will have some color. Do you think my neighbors will recognize me? Well, that's enough about clothes.

I made some, what I call, goulash for dinner. It was a favorite of my family during WWII .I chopped the onion and peppers, browned the gr. beef, added the onion mixture, fried and seasoned it, cooked the elbow macaroni and added to the meat mixture, added a can of tomato soup, added 1/2 of a lg.can of tomato sauce, added 1/2 pkg grated cheddar, (oh, I needed mushrooms, but didn't have any, and heated it in an iron skillet...tasted it and seasoned it again. It tasted so good to me.  Joe came home and thought it was Hamburger Helper...sometimes you just can't win.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Felt Critters for April and Some Gardening

Here are the little critters that I worked on this month....a deer and a little scamp of a fox.  Notice how his little head is cocked to one side.....just thinking up mischief. I had a lot of fun doing these two. The deer is the hardest that I have done so far. The legs are so skinny and hard to work with. I ended up laying a line of glue down each leg to hold in place while I stitched.
I had some trouble linking up with the felt along party....I'll let you know later if things work out there.

I have lost many things in my gardens this past winter. Four rose bushes, 4 lavender that has been growing for 10 yrs. here, my sage plant that came with me from Hampshire and several other perennials like my many years old mums across the front. They are all on the same side of the house and received the same winds and cold. The 2 rose bushes in the back are fine. Everything that I planted by the new bird bath...late last year are gone. So, I have had to replace some things. No more roses will be planted. I ordered some bare root perennials and they came yesterday. With the coming rains....I knew that I had to get them in the ground right away. So, I worked for several hours clearing out the dead things and planting the new. The hardest part was getting rid of the rose bushes. I couldn't dig them out, so I just clipped away at them and had to leave the thickest stumps of branches at the bottoms of two of them.These (stumps) will be not so noticeable when I put my new focal point there. (my surprise) I put a few things in my big containers...just to hold, till I know where I want them.I finished just in time to get relax a bit and then get ready for Mass. Today, my body aches, but I have a feeling of accomplishment... doing this work. It won't look the same here this year. I always liked the roses and mums blooming together. The colors blended so well. Well, can't cry over spilled milk and it's on to maybe a new color scheme. Oranges, yellows, and blues...oh my! There will still be the pinks and lavenders...sounds like a mess. Isn't that what gardening is all about...trial and error? Joe will be happy with more color going on. I always loved the pinks and purples :(  I do have a surprise for the focal point in the front garden. I'll tell you later. 
Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

John's Birthday

Today is John's birthday...and we should celebrate..
The 26th of April is his special date.
Years ago, a sign was made and put in a window near.
Happy Birthday 5 year old...was what it said that year.
Thinking of this birthday.... when he was a little boy...
His older brother, Tim, broke his brand new toy.
LuAnn, his sister, looking on, with a sad look on her face..
She wanted just to play with it...but that wouldn't be the case.
His birthday cake with Winnie the Pooh...from a bakery at the store..
The candles lit and then blown out and the kids were saying.. more.
Now, he's a man and all grown up, he's the first to shout a cheer..
He lights the candles and scoops ice cream for parties every year.
So, let's hang the sign, and bake the cake, a party is in store..
For John the birthday celebrating life once more.

Happy Birthday John....Love you, Mom and Joe

Friday, April 25, 2014

Arbor Day Special Tree

These are the seed pods from my favorite tree...the Eastern Redbud. I have a couple of these in the woods. In the fall, they are full of these seed pods...and you would think that little Redbuds would be everywhere.That's not the least here at my house.
The original tree was (what I call) a rescue tree. It was the end of the season and our local little nursery was having a close out sale. It was the last day of the sale, and I walked into the store and out the back door to the tree lot. There was a 5 gal, container with this little gem... almost hidden by weeds and grass. The sales person came out and asked if I wanted it. I debated and he said 1/2 price? He was almost giving it to me. He even carried it to the car and laid plastic under to protect the trunk. I carried it to the back yard and with just a little shovel....planted it. It snowed the next day and all winter, I thought about the little thing. Would it survive? In the spring, I checked it and lo and behold...tiny little buds were forming along the two branches. A few weeks later, it bloomed. Tiny little pink blooms. Now, it's over my head and leans out into the yard....keeping the guy with the lawn mower from mowing close to the border. I have trimmed off a few branches, but I love the natural way the branches twist and turn. It has a baby...a tiny little start of a tree was underneath and when I saw it, I scooped it up and put it in another spot. It's growing...but more slowly. I can't tell you what joy it brings me each year....from the buds, to the blooms, to the twisting branches, to the heart shaped leaves, and then the seed pods in the fall. On Arbor Day....I love to remember how this little tree came to be in my yard.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Busy, Busy

Busy house today. I'm in the process of changing the closet over from winter to spring and summer. Joe's outside hooking up the hose caddy and getting the garden hoses ready for the watering season.
Changing the closets is my least favorite matter how I do's a chore. I store some things downstairs and have tried to alleviate going up and down so much by thinning out my clothes to just what I wear now. Every year, I check out what I need, which isn't much this year. Even keeping fewer's still nice to have somethings that are fresh and new. My clothes may be new to others, but I know them....So, it's back to my job...I'll come back later and sit here and rest....then write a little more.In the's back to work. Bean soup cooking on the stove.
After I posted this...I looked at it and then looked up and saw the quote about simplifying. I have to remember this as I work on things here in the house...and outside. As I age....I must simplify. Joe just came in and said, "Boy, am I tired. I get tired just doing the simplest things." I feel much the same way...we can't do what we did or with the speed that we used to do things. Why can't we get this in our old gray heads? Simplify.... a good word for those growing older.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day

This is Earth day....Enjoy the out of doors today. If it's rainy or can still find some beauty here on earth. Make it a habit to pick up trash instead of tossing it on the ground....If we all do our part...we can make it more beautiful.
So many colorful birds here this morning. Finches with their rosy feathers, a papa Cardinal feeding his lady, a noisy Chickadee grabbing a seed and running, a Nuthatch doing the same, a Cowbird with it's brown head. The sparrows tend to go to the back feeder and the others are here in my window feeder this morning. They are almost as colorful as the bouquet of flowers that my grand daughter brought on Easter. What a mixture of beauty..

I have daffodils blooming, but nary a tulip. They are too hard to grow here because of little creatures relishing those tasty bulbs. I guess that I could plant them under some chicken wire, but in the fall, I tend to go out on the coldest day to plant and I never take the time. My daughter has brought me countless bouquets of tulips. These are in a glass container. I've never seen this done before.

 My grandsons came with a fern for grandma. It seems that grandmas used to always have ferns. I really don't have a shady place for this it will stay in the a north window. It's fronds are so lacy and delicate.
 An oriental lily from my daughter in law. This one can be planted outside when the weather permits. It smells heavenly in our house. I love the fragrance of lilies.I love the color.
 This hanging basket is from her too. I think that the basket is so neat. When I started looking inside the planter, I found geraniums, impatiens, bacopa and another little blue flower. I put this in a semi shady spot...the only place I could find. It should look beautiful as it grows.
I also received a gift card from my daughter in a greenhouse that is a favorite of mine. When I'm tired of shopping for flowers (am I ever tired of this past time?) Joe and I will go to Red Lobster and have a meal...using the gift card from son John.
Well, no pictures of people, but pictures of a wonderful array of presents. We had a great time and the best thing was being able to share with grand daughter in N. Carolina by skype. It was almost like having her here.
Today I'm having my eyes examined. I hope things go well there. My vision has really changed since last year. Wish me luck.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Our Easter Sunday

Here it is the day after Easter and I only have one picture to show. I woke early in the morning and glanced out my window...what is that back in the woods...I wondered. I got my camera and put on some clothes and took a walk. The little forsythia that I planted a year or so ago...bloomed. I was so excited...because this is a spot where it can grow and spread and bloom to high heaven. It hasn't done much of anything, and I was beginning to think that it needed more sunlight. A perfect thing for Easter Sunday morning. We ate a little breakfast then got ready for Mass. We walked up the walk to Church and noticed some new lantern type pieces on either side of the doors. There were candles and forsythia inside of the glassed in portion. So pretty and the wreaths on the doors were beautiful. I always love walking into Church on Easter. Everything is always so pretty....the smell of fresh lilies was in the air. Don't you love to see little children on Easter in their finery? Little girls in fancy dresses and boys with little shirts and ties. I remembered Tim, back when he was little.....I had the two little ones ready for Church and he stayed so neat, while his 13 month younger sister had found a puddle and had to splash in it. He was holding her hand, when we came out the door to get in the car...he didn't want her to get in trouble. Mass was especially meaningful on this Easter morning and the music was joyous. Christ has risen...Hallelujah.
We talked to everyone while leaving...some were going to relatives, some were going out to eat, some were getting home to cook for family...that's what I was going to do. My side of the family was coming at 1 for a traditional Easter dinner. Ham, potato salad, sweet potatoes, squash, mac and cheese, Italian green beans, relishes, deviled eggs, dinner rolls and two chocolate, one cherry. We all gathered at our table for the blessing and then started filling our plates. The kids were talking about their memories of past Easters. We laughed till our sides hurt. Stories that included Tim...our missing link. The kids are hesitant to bring him up...but it really helps me to remember the days when he was with us.
I have to mention that we were celebrating three birthdays yesterday. Joe's, mine, and son John's. They came in the door and brought me spring. Flowers were everywhere...a fern, yellow tulips in an unusual glass container, a pink oriental lily, a bouquet of mixed flowers, a hanging planter with a neat basket...I think that's everything. Our house smelled like a florist shop. I started right away watering the plants. My daughter helped by watering the hanging one outside. We cleared the table and then sat in the living room to do some more visiting. It was time to go for everyone, and by this time we were all tired. As we waved good bye, I thought to myself...a wonderful day.
You'll just have to visualize a happy family enjoying the day....I left the camera in another room and didn't even think of taking pictures. Very unusual for me.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Special Eggs

I have a cut glass bowl that once belonged to my mother in law. She loved Easter and painted eggs until the day she died. One year, she surprised us by making eggs into clowns for my two kids. My third hadn't been born yet. So that makes them over 50 years old.She made the blue flowered egg and the two clowns. The bunny one in the middle was a gift from her. The bunny in the back, came in a floral arrangement from my parents. The red egg in front, was a gift from my daughter who lives in DC.It commemorates the Easter egg roll at the white house in 2000. These eggs deserve a special that's why they are in her cut glass bowl.
Today looks kind of cloudy here. I was just out to shake out the dust cloth and found it to be warmer than it looks. I filled the feeders and shook out the cloth. I have hummingbird nectar cooling in the sink. I think that it's time to fill the those little fast winged birds will be here and there are no flowers yet to attract them.
I have to keep going on this spring cleaning. I got the computer room cleaned and now I am moving into the dining room. Have a nice day everyone....

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An Outing

The winter had been long and it was time for a trip to Merlin's and The Other Side in Oregon, Illinois. There were just the three of us today talking, nonstop, as we drove along the Rock River on our way to Oregon. We pulled into the parking lot at The Other Side...a boutique that is part of Merlin's gift and greenhouse. Spring was in the air and we had to hang on for dear the wind was so strong. As we opened the door....fragrances of potpourri, candles, and free samples of coffee hit us.We spent quite a lot of time in this shop. They were featuring one and get the 2nd at 50% off. There were scarves hanging everywhere
The store had been just decorated for spring. It was decorated in sections of color. A blue area, greens, pinks etc. Other merchandise was mixed in. Purses, blouses, shawls, hats, glitzy flip flops,beautiful  baby things, flower arrangements, jewelry, and a gourmet section. I was dizzy....wondering what to look at first. We shopped till we dropped and then meandered across the street to Merlin's. Inside the greenhouse, were rows of Easter flowers, lilies, geraniums, pansies, hydrangeas, and other beautiful flowers. A sea of pastels in front of us. We saw a preview of what's to come this summer. Some hanging planters of burlap with holes and in each hole an impatien. Soon these will be huge balls of impatiens.

Out in the gift shop were so many Easter things. Bunnies were everywhere. Kitchen items and flower arrangements, things hanging from the ceiling.  Wind chimes, fountains, statuary and so much more.

Then back to the greenhouse to get another whiff of spring. I loved the selection of geraniums. They had flowers the size of the palm of my hand. Huge, big geraniums for summer. So many shades of pinks.

 After spending a lot of time (and a little money) we said our good byes and went over to Conover Square to look around at the shops and eat lunch. We ate at Conover Coffee and Chocolates. We each had a basket with a 1\2 was tuna, one egg salad, and one chicken salad. A cup of broccoli soup for each of us along with a flavored coffee...I had raspberry iced tea. We decided to treat ourselves to a little dessert....I had a Meyer's Lemon Truffle with dark chocolate...yum.  We left Conover Square and stopped at the best $ store there is. We got a few things there and went to the resale shop a couple of doors down the street. I got two tiered plates for candies and cookies. I have been wanting one of these for quite a while...funny, I found two that I couldn't do without. I have many ideas for using these. One is milk glass and the other is clear glass. As we left the store, we vowed that we would come again soon. On the way home, we stopped at the drug store that has a great gift dept. and shopped for Easter candy and paper plates. It was a fun day...I'm, so glad to have these women friends.We don't see each other often enough and when we do get together...we pick up just like we had seen each other just the other day. Non stop chatting and laughing. A nice day out.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Favorite Artist

I thought that I would show my little collection of Marjolein Bastin things. I have enjoyed this artist's work for years. I have read about her...and she loves nature, as I do. She can sit in her studio and look out the window at all her bird feeders....and then capture them and their antics on paper. She has such a beautiful way of painting. So natural...and the colors are soft and almost feel like you can see these birds and other creatures move. I showed the lamp in my last post. The birds are on the can almost hear their chatter.

 Just look at the detail in the little garden tools.Her own "signature" on the tiny clay pot. A bunny peeking from behind the watering can. Could that be Peter Rabbit??

 A tipped clay pot that was holding birdseed....makes a nice morning treat for these two little wrens. I think that the tiny birds are her favorite. These are tiny boxes for a gift or jewelry etc. There's a little artistic surprise in each box.
 There are framed quotations about gardening and nature in her collection. My pieces are all gifts from friends. I've never bought a piece of this collection.

I bring them out each spring and leave them there all summer. I hate to put them away at holiday time, but I think that I enjoy them more if I put them away. That way I have something to look forward to in the spring.
 Many of her pieces have her watercolor artwork in the background. Very simple decorations for wonderful words about love, friendship, and things that happen in life.
I love this artist and her work. She has brought me many hours of happiness.....just seeing her creations around me.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Palm Sunday

We went to Palm Sunday Mass last night. As we went into the Church, we picked up the palms and took them to our pew. The Mass proceeded and Father entered from the back of the Church and read the gospel. It is very long at Easter time...and many people were shifting from one leg to another waiting for him to finish the 5 pages. Some sat during the reading. I was waiting for a mention of the palms that we had just picked up....but nothing was said. In the past, the palms were raised by the congregation and the palms were acknowledged....sometimes they were blessed at that time. Now they are blessed before the Mass. We have a fairly new Priest and Priests are all different and do things their way. We've had 4 Priests at this Church since I joined 10 yrs ago. We have had to adapt to all their different ways. It seems we just get used to one and we are given another.
I was on the arts and environment committee until last year and I remember picking up the palms at our local grocery store (the grocer was a member of our Church)  They kept them in cold storage until time for us to use them. We would use them to make arrangements for the Altar. I really loved working with them. They would sometimes turn brown before Easter if we weren't careful. Door arrangements were made too.
I remember the picture of gentle Jesus riding a donkey coming into Jerusalem with palms decorating the street....this picture was in all of my Sunday School rooms...when I was little.
Joe remembers getting a whole palm branch, when he was a boy. Now days we only give each member a piece of the branch.
Before joining the Catholic Church, I was a Methodist. I remember Palm Sundays in the past. One year the school kids formed a line on each side of the walk and made an archway...using the palm branches for people to walk under.
Another year the path was strewn with palm branches for us to walk on.
One year we had a palm weaving class and made crosses and flowers out of the palms.
We bring the palms home and put them behind our picture of Pope John Paul in the breakfast nook. They are kept there until just before Ash Wednesday...when they are burned for the ashes.
I guess it doesn't matter how this day is celebrated. It is the beginning of Holy Week and symbolizes the entrance into Jerusalem by Jesus. A joyous occasion....leading up to his Crucifixion.There are many special things coming up in our Church this week. Easter is a day to look forward it sunny or rainy. Jesus rose from the dead...he is the Light of the world.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Here Comes Easter

Easter is coming and now I'm ready for it.

Yesterday I decided to work outside on the deck. I cleaned the furniture, filled the planters with fresh potting soil and swept the deck. I was still feeling pretty peppy, so I came in and started "getting Easter out" I'll show you more pictures from day to the posts aren't so full of pictures.the first is our Easter egg tree. This little tree sits in our breakfast nook and is up year round. I decorate it with lots of things. It's mostly a woodland tree with berries, cones and things I find in the yard. But's filled with my Easter egg collection.

 This is a little bunny village that I painted probably 40 yrs ago. It's made of balsa wood. I got the kit at Lee Ward's in Elgin, Illinois. Lee Wards was a huge store with all kinds of crafting supplies...Since then Michael's and Hobby Lobby have opened up on a far smaller scale. I used to love Lee Ward's and spent a lot of time there.

 This next picture is my bunny in a chair. She was a present from my daughter...years ago. She still looks great and has graced my chair for a long time.
 Many years ago, I didn't decorate for Easter. Maybe just a few bunnies and of course Easter baskets. Since my birthday falls around Easter ....I have been given so many nice gifts pertaining to the holiday. These two were the first of many presents to use to decorate for Easter. They came from a special friend.They used to be in the kitchen, but this year they are in the dining room. Aren't they cute?
 Here is my floppy bunny from another birthday time. The lamp was a gift from the two special friends who gave me the bunnies. I am such a bird lover and it has my favorite birds on it. It's very special to me.
Last picture today is my snow bunny. It has a special place on this tiny shelf on our stairway. It was the last gift from my cousin Nancy, who passed away a couple of years ago from cancer.
So, there's a sample of things to come. I love spring and everything it brings. Daffodils, tulips, warmer weather, sunshine, rainy days, and of course...Easter. The pastel colors are so welcome now...pretty soon the bright colors of summer will be upon us. I want to enjoy the subtle touches of spring.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Musical Treat For You

Here's another favorite song of mine. I would loved to have been there. I saw this on Facebook this morning and thought I would share it with you who don't go there.
Enjoy....I'll be back later today.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Frozen Treat

Here I am...the first breath of warm weather craving something cold to eat. I was grocery shopping and looking for something...I didn't know what....just something that would satisfy my taste buds. There they were in the freezer section....Edy's Coconut treats. Which one would I buy? I decided on the plain coconut bar...knowing that I could try the other as soon as this package is finished. the one with coconut water has half the calories of the other...Of course I opted for more calories :)
I got them home and popped them in the freezer. Later in the evening, I decided to have one. I bit into the frosty delight and was surprised by the flakes of real coconut in each bite. Now, if you are a coconut lover  (as I am) you will love these treats.
They are full of coconut and have a very coconutty flavor.Last year I tried the fruit bars and wasn't disappointed. This year I was ready for something new...Speaking of something new....Edy's now carry a full line of fruit bars along with fruit and veggie combination bars. Flavors like Tangerine-Carrot, Apple and Greens, Strawberry Rhubarb (be still my heart) Blueberry Medley, and Peach Mango. These are not your usual watered down flavors. A full flavored chilled treat for summer. Try it... you'll like it!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pussy Willows and More

I needed a few things from the grocery and as I was heading toward the produce section....these caught my eye. I have been looking for pussy willows for quite a while. We usually can get them at Church. Someone brings them in and they sell them between Masses....using the money for some Church project that the kids are doing. I haven't seen them at I scooped up two bouquets. I put one here, where we come in the front door and the other is in the breakfast nook. I love pussy willows...almost as much as Easter lilies. I've never had a bush, but have tried to grow them from branches that take root in my vases. These are sturdy branches with fat catkins. A perfect name for this fuzzy little nub on a branch. The bushes are pretty nondescript after they are really suited for a woodland border. If these root...I may try start one in the way back.
It's beautiful today. Yesterday I just kept going. I felt so good and kept at it cutting down perennials and vines leftover from fall. I cut down the purple coneflowers and checked the roses for new growth. I filled bags of debris and took them back and dumped them in the woods brush pile. I added new compost to many of the potted sedums and replanted the strawberry jar.
I got the spray paint out and sprayed the grapevine wreath that hangs on the porch rail near the garden by the drive. It is getting old and is sort of a gray color....this will liven it up a bit. As I walked back up to the house....I realized that I am feeling better than last year. No limping around, I can bend better, and all in all I can accomplish what I set out to. I think that I owe this to the months of going to the pool three times a week. We were there this morning and noticed that more older people were there. I guess we all benefit from the water exercise that we get. Oh, and another thing I noticed.....One day,when I was doing exercises with a new DVD...the instructor said to stand on one leg. I thought....easy peasy.....but found that I felt tippy when I did it. My balance was off. After going to the pool and practising standing on one leg in the water for the count of 50....I can do it without losing my balance. Yea! You might think that this is a minor accomplishment, but not so for this aging woman.
Well, I have to get going. We are going out for's 3 pm and we haven't eaten yet...only a cookie :)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What I'm Doing Today

I'm on Spring Break for today....I'm going to get outside and clean up the front porch and bring up the cushions. I don't care that snow is predicted for next week. We will enjoy the porch while it's in the 60's. I finished my window project last night and Joe is going to hang it. I'll be back later today, because I'll need to rest. I hope some of you people who have had to hibernate all big old fuzzy bears....can get out in the nice weather today.
See ya later,
I'm back with some pictures of what I did today. I got the porch ready for the summer this morning. This is my favorite time of the year. It's warm enough to work outside, things are just beginning to pop....and while that's happening we can get things done like washing windows, cleaning clay pots, trimming, some pruning, and cleaning up the porch furniture and the porch itself. We can't do much in the these things get us outside enjoying the beginning of the weather that we have waited for so long. Here are some pictures of today...
 Here are the swingers. They have hung here on our porch for a long time. Once in a while, a bird will dart in and out between them. Especially when we have a bird nest on the porch.
 Our porch is very narrow. It is just big enough for us to sit and for a couple of neighbor friends who stop by for a visit. I usually sit on the Adirondack chair and Joe sits on the bench.
 The window that I have been working hanging there now. I painted it barn red and backed it with an old quilt that was falling apart. I finished it yesterday and it's on the porch wall today.

 Finally, here is Miss Goosey Lucy. She is all dressed up in her rain coat. She is next to a pot of artificial flowers. Pretty soon some real flowers will be there. I am painting a stool and that will be behind her with a big plant on it.
So, there you have it. My morning in the sun. Now, I'm going out to plant some succulents in the strawberry jar.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday This and That

I spent the weekend doing all sorts of things. We went to Mass on Sat. evening and then came home to watch a movie and eat a snack. During the night the phone rang and really startled me. It was 2:50 am. I only heard my son's name mentioned. The call was about son John's security system....someone had set it off and they couldn't reach they called me.  I asked him to take my name off the list in the morning, because there is nothing we can do if this would happen again. We live more than an hour away from him. This is startling for us two oldsters...neither of us slept the rest of the night. Nothing happened at his house...and he was sleeping at the time (with his phone turned off). Why do people turn off their cell phones... when they have no other phone? What if someone needed them in an emergency situation? Oh, well enough crabbing about that.
Yesterday, found me working on my window project and in between letting the paint dry, I was working on my little critters. I got the critters done and my window project is ready for the next step. I'll show you later this week. We had a nice dinner...roast chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, asparagus, squash, and some Italian bread. We watched the Country Music Awards show until bedtime.
This morning was the day to go to the pool. It felt good to leave in the relatively warm weather. The pool was cold, however. Coming home, I decided to call Elizabeth and see if she wanted company. She had called last week and invited me sometime this week. I drove over to her house and was greeted by two little Westies at the door. They are so cute and love when anyone visits. She always tells them that I am coming and they get so excited. We sat by the fireplace,and she turned on the fire. The dogs settled down and she pointed to the counter...told me to go and get my birthday present. It was wrapped in a cellophane bag with crinkle ribbon. A small, very pretty, little cruet with rum inside. If you remember, I told you that she puts a little rum in her tea. I tried it the last time at lunch and she remembered that I liked it. So, the rum for my tea and the antique cruet was my birthday gift. I got such a kick out of this present. Now, when I have tea....I will remember her. I wondered about driving home with open liquor in the car....but took the chance.
As I was driving into town, I noticed something new. On the corner, by the drug store, a framework for a building of sorts was being built. It looked like a place for plants...maybe a garden center. I asked in the store, and was told that I was right. We will have a new garden center right on the corner as I drive into town. Oh, I will need some help going past this place. How convenient...maybe too convenient. I will tell you more as it gets built.
Now, I am going to finish up downstairs and then take a rest. So looking forward to the rest of the week. Warmer weather means I will be outside. I sat on the porch yesterday and it felt so good.
Have a nice afternoon

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Morning Has Broken

 One of my favorite hymns is "Morning Has Broken." I first heard the song in the 1970's, when it played on the radio...sung by Cat Stevens. I remember it vividly....I rushed to the kitchen and turned the radio up. The tune was so pretty and the words were like poetry. I've always loved poetry about nature....and this song was one that I wanted to I wrote it down, so as not to forget it. Later, when I was in Church, I heard it again. I didn't realize that it was a hymn. Now, I was able to sing it. We used to have a part of the service, where we could choose a favorite hymn to sing....mine was always this one. When Joe and I were making plans to marry, the Priest said that one of us could pick the processional and the other the recessional. I thought about our morning wedding and picked this song for the processional. I hoped that it was in the Catholic hymnal...and it was.... only with different words. I only needed the melody.  I still play it on you tube when I want to hear Cat Stevens sing it.I just found out that it is the first Christian hymn to have it's most famous cover version by a Muslim.. Cat has been a Muslim since 1978.
Here are the lyrics....
Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven

Like the first dew fall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning

Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day

Morning has broken like the first morning

Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word

Do you see what I mean about the lyrics? A beautiful poem set to a beautiful tune. A beautiful way to start the day here in No. Illinois. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and it promises to be a nice day.


The baby eagles have hatched...two of them. Just saw Mom feeding the two some leftover fish. They are so cute...with their fuzzy little heads. Just put eagles at Decorah, Iowa in your search line...and watch.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I had the morning planned..............

Time to get out that gardening outfit and work out in the weather permits. My gardening outfit begins with faded old jeans, T shirt, sweatshirt, hoodie, and then my pillow ticking garden jacket. Shoes or boots depending on the wetness of the ground. As you can see....I dress in layers. As I work, off comes one layer and then another. Soon, I am there with just my denim striped jacket, shirt and jeans. I've had this jacket for probably 25 yrs. It just keeps on I do. Like the old energizer bunny. I hate wearing something on my head, but sometimes I'll wear a bandanna and then just move it to my neck as the day warms up. I have a couple different kinds of garden gloves. Soft deer skin and fabric ones. I also have heavy duty ones for pulling branches etc. I won't be doing any of that this year. Lastly we come to the best companion a lady of 76 can trusty old green plastic chair. Joe's son didn't want these chairs a few years ago and I snapped them up. They are just the right height for me and I have three that I put in strategic spots around the yard. I carry that plus my tool bucket (a 5 gal container fitted with and insert to hold all my necessary things like tools, phone and sometimes my AM radio. So, you see....I'm no fashion plate when I'm out working. I look rather like a posh neighbors must watch for my outfit to change, but it never will. My kids and husband hate to hear me talk about my demise, but my garden outfit is one that I should be buried in :) Just a little garden humor this early morning:) :) :)

Today is chilly and I may go out and do a couple of things....but guess I'll stay in and just stew about the stew I made yesterday. I did this because we usually go swimming on Wed morning and I like to have a quick meal when we come home. Joe decided to take the car in for service and go swimming tomorrow...he planned this at the last minute.

So, my plans had to change. I hate that. Oh, flexible they always say....who are they anyway?

Oh, my goodness...I'm just in from outside...I had a card to put in the mailbox. The wind had died down and then I decided to take all the terra cotta garden pots etc. out and place them where they belong in the yard. This being said...I wonder, do you put things in the same place year after year? I seem to do this, only because the succulents in the strawberry jar love full sun and not much water, the Italian pots hold Dipladenia plants...and they love a good soaking with the  hose. The handmade concrete shell with hens and chicks....looks so nice sitting on the purple chair. My stack and grow is so bright with geraniums.....and those do well on the deck.The huge cup and saucer planter holds moss roses and goes with the red geraniums. So these plants dictate where they like to be placed and the containers just follow along.
I'll be back tomorrow with other things going on in the garden. I may be walking with an umbrella...or maybe snow shoes :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I Just Can't Wait....Can You?

Winter is over and I see signs of spring everywhere. As I stepped out the door on this windy day....the last of the leaves from last year are drifting down the street. Whoops there goes my perfectly coiffed  hair :) Birds are pecking the ground to find some little things to eat. Male birds are beginning to strut around like peacocks...trying to lure a lady. Yesterday the goose pair (I like to think that this couple is the same one I see each day) were floating down the river against the current. The white caps bouncing around them as they seemingly just float on top of the water. I'm sure that under the water their legs are paddling a mile a minute.

I didn't try to do anything would have been pointless. Today the wind is a little less, but cold has returned and I have to find things to do inside. I've been researching the Internet to find an idea for something to hang on my porch wall. We have a problem with wreaths. Wreaths just invite birds to make their nests there. I like to sit on the porch and really don't want to co-exist with birds.

I have a couple of old windows downstairs. I've painted a couple of them, but I wanted to do something different. Our front door is barn red and I have a tall stool that I'm going to paint the same holds my bigger aloe plant for the summer months. I'm thinking that I will paint the window frame that barn red. I have an old quilt that is falling apart. It has faded colors of red white and blues. I think that I will cut the quilt (I'll wait here while you gasp) Parts of this little quilt simply shred with each of my touches. It's been outside on the porch for I feel comfortable cutting it up and using it for several projects. I want to put part of this quilt on the back of the window frame. I can nail it in several places. Then I'm planning on decorating the frame with some dried materials ....or birds made of felt. This is just formulating in my mind as I write this.

We have blue cushions on the white chairs and a barn red bench with a blue cushion there already. A couple of small glass tables and of course some green plants...maybe some scented geraniums.I'm anxious to start this project.

In the meantime, I'll  continue watching for spring like things going on. I simply love this time of renewal. It is so welcome this year....what a long, difficult winter we just experienced. Just thought of something....I will be bringing my bird bath and the terra cotta pots and strawberry jar soon. Oh, I just can't wait...can you?